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  1. #1
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    What affiliate network to use
    Hi ABW

    I have been trying for months now to get an unbiased opinion (unbiased meaning an opinion not monetized with an affiliate link) on what would be a good affiliate network to use to promote my products.

    I can find loads of bad press about just about every network I have looked at, some noticeably worse (like click bank) than others.

    But the good press seems always to be accompanied by a monetized link leaving the veracity of the review in doubt.

    I build WordPress themes for a variety of niches. From an affiliates point of view, assuming you were interested in promoting the product, it met all of your requirements, had a good track record etc.

    In otherwords if all was well, and all things being equal... if you had the ability to tell the vendor, I want to sell this, but only through affiliate network xyz, what would that affiliate network be?

    I want to place my products on the network affiliates want to use and are most comfortable with. Rather than place it on a network good affiliates avoid.

    Any insights at all would be appreciated!

    Thanks and Merry Christmas!

    Ash

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    A quick search here could turn up more recommendations than you may care to read, the question is asked a lot. Much depends on your personal preferences, but for smaller merchants without a lot of products SAS seems to be a popular choice.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2busy View Post
    A quick search here could turn up more recommendations than you may care to read, the question is asked a lot. Much depends on your personal preferences, but for smaller merchants without a lot of products SAS seems to be a popular choice.
    Thanks! I did search google and have been searching for a while and your right, loads of recos. But almost always it was accompanied by an affiliate link. If the opinion is monetized (paid for) its not really an opinion you can trust. This is why I asked here, so I could get unmonetized answers.

    By SAS do you mean Share a Sale?

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    Yes, SAS is Share a Sale. I meant a search here on ABW, it's up at the top of the page.

  5. #5
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    I prefer SAS since their reporting is almost instantaneous, where as CJ has a several hours delay on clicks/impressions/sales etc.
    Last edited by CluckCluck; December 22nd, 2010 at 09:01 PM. Reason: mispelled word

  6. #6
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    Looking into SAS now.

    CJ is off the cards for me: requires you have been selling for a year online already and done 50k in sales/month.

    Not something I can claim to have done at this point.

    Any other networks?

  7. #7
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    Several networks have Forums here at ABW and you can go in those and get a feel for the harmony between networks and affiliates. Nobody will be dropping affiliate links either as it's not allowed at ABW.

    I like SAS, but AvantLink deserves a look too.


  8. #8
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    There are several companies selling WP Themes successfully through Shareasale. StudioPress and Thesis are the performing at the moment there.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  9. #9
    ABW Ambassador Vrindavan's Avatar
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    >> I build WordPress themes for a variety of niches

    you sell digital products ?

    if i like CJ and AvantLink the most.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vrindavan View Post
    >>

    you sell digital products ?

    if i like CJ and AvantLink the most.
    Yes I sell WordPress themes and plugins.

    CJ requires I have 50k/month in sales and a 1 year history as I am just starting out that is not realistic for me. I am in touch with Avant and SAS and hopefully they wont have such high requirements

  11. #11
    Newbie Dani Bulatovic's Avatar
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    There a lot of people who has different opinions. The best way for you is to go and contact a few of them, so you can see which one fits best for you.

  12. #12
    OPM/Moderator Hectic GHC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thinkinginvain View Post
    If the opinion is monetized (paid for) its not really an opinion you can trust. This is why I asked here, so I could get unmonetized answers.
    I'm glad you asked here but I somewhat disagree with your theory above. Just trying to be helpful and not contrarian, I hope you understand. As a merchant, you want affiliates to learn more about your products and promote them through testimonials. Many affiliates promote merchants they truly believe in and trust, therefore they want to be that trusted referral.
    Greg Hoffman
    Affiliate Marketing Advocate of the Year 2016; Best OPM/Agency - 2014; Best OPM/Agency, Five Years in a Row - ABestWeb.
    Visit Greg Hoffman Consulting

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Hoffman Consulting View Post
    I'm glad you asked here but I somewhat disagree with your theory above. Just trying to be helpful and not contrarian, I hope you understand. As a merchant, you want affiliates to learn more about your products and promote them through testimonials. Many affiliates promote merchants they truly believe in and trust, therefore they want to be that trusted referral.
    Hi Greg I don't doubt that at all. But sadly the majority I have come across on the wider web are recommending purely for monetizing.

    While I am certain many are giving honest advice, as long as the advice is subsidized it will always be suspect.

    In fact I think thats partly why FCC regs require disclosure nowadays.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by thinkinginvain View Post
    While I am certain many are giving honest advice, as long as the advice is subsidized it will always be suspect.
    Wow, and you are in affiliate marketing? You just negated not only the whole industry, but consulting services as well.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by loxly View Post
    Wow, and you are in affiliate marketing? You just negated not only the whole industry, but consulting services as well.
    Not at all.

    For example, in my own business I often consult over things like what webhost to choose etc. While I am paid for my consulting I am not paid to recommend one host over another. I make no more or less recommending GoDaddy over HostMonster for instance (though I actually recommend neither). Now were I to charge for my consulting AND go on to recommend only those products I earned a commission on I would be crossing a line.

    The same goes for any other recommendation I make. In the few cases where I do include an affiliate link I clear indicate it is and give an alternative link for hose who do not wish to click the affiliate one.

    Most comparison websites on the other hand benefit from the specific advice they give, not from the act of giving advice.

    Thats a huge difference

    When your opinion can be bought and paid for it's veracity must be questioned.

    I have in fact seen this happen with one of my own former clients, a doctor who started monetizing his advice with affiliate links. Before long the only things he recommended were those he got commissions on and the end result, he got sued for malpractice as a lot of people ended up sick due to medications and supplements not needed being recommended while treatments that would have solved the problem were left by the way side.

    I will fully agree that most ethical affiliate marketers do in fact only recommend those products they do believe in. And I don't have issue with those who do. But how do I, as a consumer, tell the difference between those who give the best advice possible and those who just plop up a link because they get paid for it?

    Surely you have seen yourself that a lot of affiliates are not ethical (And I by no means means those found on this forum!!! but this forum is just a small part of the affiliate armies that are out there).

    I myself get emails daily from one affiliate marketer or another marketing the next hot item, every one guaranteed to make me rich overnight, solve all my problems, grow my penis ten times longer and grant me eternal life. LOL

    In the mix of all this how can one possibly know what advice can be trusted?

    The short answer is of course to take advice from those you trust, but not having a relationship with anyone here on this forum that I know well enough to say 'I trust' I ask for advice that comes without affiliate links instead so that I can put my concerns aside and assume the answers to be honest rather than paid for opinions...

    Of course the irony is that I plan to market my products using affiliate marketers, and while I hope that only those who do believe in my products will market them I am quite sure many affiliates will just market it as the next new cure-all, as much as that may benefit me it's not what I want done in my name.

    Which is in fact the whole purpose of this post.

    I want to know what affiliate network I should use that affiliates (good ethical affiliates) would be comfortable with me using.

    My goal is to find a network that the good and ethical affiliates prefer so that I might minimize as much as possible the amount of problem affiliates I have marketing my products. Of course this may nt be possible at all, but until I ask I won't know.

    Right now, based on the advice I ave received here so far and based on my own research and discussions with various networks, Share A Sale looks like the route I will take, though at this point i can only say its shortlisted as I am still gathering info.

  16. #16
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    "While I am certain many are giving honest advice, as long as the advice is subsidized it will always be suspect."

    That makes sense, it's just logical. It's why I subscribe to Consumer Reports and why I trust more in reviews by people who have no financial interest in what they're reviewing. As an example, reviews by people who actually bought the product at places like Amazon.com, consumer reviews or consumer review websites. I'm looking for a new office chair and trying to find unbiased reviews. When I stumble across sites where the links are affiliate links, I skip those.
    Last edited by Trust; December 27th, 2010 at 12:52 AM.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust View Post
    "While I am certain many are giving honest advice, as long as the advice is subsidized it will always be suspect."

    That makes sense, it's just logical. It's why I subscribe to Consumer Reports and why I trust more in reviews by people who have no financial interest in what they're reviewing. As an example, reviews by people who actually bought the product at places like Amazon.com, consumer reviews or consumer review websites. I'm looking for a new office chair and trying to find unbiased reviews. When I stumble across sites where the links are affiliate links, I skip those.
    It's not just me who thinks this either, here's a recent article on BBC news about comparison sites.

    BBC News - Price comparison websites 'must do better'

  18. #18
    ABW Ambassador Vrindavan's Avatar
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    People endorse one religion over the other,
    does it help you make a wiser choice
    because that endorsement has no financial incentive ?

    Financial incentives can cause bias, but no financial benefit does not mean that endorsement/review will be better, smarter or more intelligent automatically.

    In the end, it is still how good the review matter more than
    whether there is an affiliate link or not.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vrindavan View Post
    People endorse one religion over the other,
    does it help you make a wiser choice
    because that endorsement has no financial incentive ?

    Financial incentives can cause bias, but no financial benefit does not mean that endorsement/review will be better, smarter or more intelligent automatically.

    In the end, it is still how good the review matter more than
    whether there is an affiliate link or not.
    Comparing a religious endorsement to an affiliate endorsement is specious at best and bringing religion into any argument quickly devolves the argument into dangerous waters..

    But if you want to make that comparison

    1) Religious endorsements carry with them an inherent reward. Most religions have within them some form of 'payment' for doing 'god's will' in spreading the holy word. In many cases the religion teaches that just dong gods work is its own reward and certainly those who do the spreading of the word feel its far better than a financial reward.

    One could make an argument that as such the opinion spouted by the religious adherent is inherently biased and untrustworthy.

    But please lets leave religion out of it. It really has no place in this discussion.

    In instead lets look at this part of your argument:

    "Financial incentives can cause bias, but no financial benefit does not mean that endorsement/review will be better, smarter or more intelligent automatically."

    As any student of game theory knows, incentives are everything. As soon as an incentive is introduced into any system the results are immediately skewed.

    Even the FCC requires full disclosure for 'paid for' endorsements which is what an affiliate link amounts to.

    Its really just common sense that a paid endorsement cannot carry the same weight as one that is not paid.

    But what is interesting is that you say "but no financial benefit does not mean that endorsement/review will be better, smarter or more intelligent automatically"

    I never claimed that it would. My claim is that it if the financial bias is eliminated the endorsement is more likley to be an honestly held opinion.

    I made no statement about the quality of the opinion otherwise. In otherwords, eliminating the financial incentive generally increases the veracity of the opinions.

    It goes without saying that the value of an opinion will vary depending on the experience and intelligence of the person giving that opinion.

    I am not going to argue the point further, as at this stage we have more posts arguing whether or not affiliate links can be trusted than we do answering the question I originally asked. In other words the signal to noise ratio has decreased to the point that the purpose of the thread seems to have been lost.

    Interestingly this is what happens everywhere I ask this question, which is why I say I can never get an unbiased opinion. As soon as I say 'no affiliate links please; no one wants to give advice, they would rather argue about giving affiliate links....

    Which perhaps proves my point more than anything else I could say.

    Whats really ironic is that according to some of the posters here affiliate links are not allowed (I was not aware of this in my original post)

    So basically this arguing has been over nothing and meanwhile an honest questions has gone mostly unanswered.

    My thanks to those of you who bypassed the argument and did take the time to answer. Your opinions are valued and have been helpful.

    I look forward to winning your trust enough to have you affiliate my products.
    Last edited by thinkinginvain; December 27th, 2010 at 01:36 AM.

  20. #20
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    In the end it is all about relationships.

    People *ask* me for affiliate links to products they want that I recommend. Affiliates and other managers do to.

    Trust if you ask me what office chair I have and you can get it somewhere that I have an affiliate link for you won't believe that I really like the chair because I might make a couple bucks off the sale of it?

    It's all about relationships.

    Thinking your post makes a lot of sense, but you are basically still saying the channel you want to sell your product through is a channel you don't trust and won't purchase through.

    You sound smart enough to know the difference between the "gurus" and people with real opinions that just happen to have an affiliate link to their network of choice or to the books they recommend through an Amazon affiliate link.

    I wish you luck as you go through the process. Are you going to be at Affiliate Summit in January? There you can meet people face to face, discuss your options and decide if they are trying to sell you to sell you or if they believe in what they are selling you.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  21. #21
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    Whats really ironic is that according to some of the posters here affiliate links are not allowed (I was not aware of this in my original post)
    You are correct, affiliate links are not allowed on this forum, but they are maybe links in the banners and ads on the forum. In posts there are no affiliate links allowed. Posts with them are deleted or edited.

    I think your honest questions were answered, I am just trying to figure out how you can distrust a channel so much but plan to use it to promote your products. Hopefully your mind will accept that not every monetized link is out their to scam you.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by loxly View Post
    In the end it is all about relationships.

    People *ask* me for affiliate links to products they want that I recommend. Affiliates and other managers do to.

    Trust if you ask me what office chair I have and you can get it somewhere that I have an affiliate link for you won't believe that I really like the chair because I might make a couple bucks off the sale of it?

    It's all about relationships.

    Thinking your post makes a lot of sense, but you are basically still saying the channel you want to sell your product through is a channel you don't trust and won't purchase through.

    You sound smart enough to know the difference between the "gurus" and people with real opinions that just happen to have an affiliate link to their network of choice or to the books they recommend through an Amazon affiliate link.

    I wish you luck as you go through the process. Are you going to be at Affiliate Summit in January? There you can meet people face to face, discuss your options and decide if they are trying to sell you to sell you or if they believe in what they are selling you.
    Loxly,

    Yes your spot on. Its about relationships.

    As I mentioned in one of my earlier replies trust is everything. But as someone new to the forum and not having a relationship with anyone here I have no one whose advice I can trust, hence the request for unmonetized advice. As a way of building trust it can't be beat it is in fact what relationship marketing, in part, consists of.

    I am aware of the irony that I intend to use a channel I don't fully trust to market my products, but again, as I mentioned in an earlier post that is exactly the reason for this topic being started.

    Besides who can honestly say they trust anything they do when they first start out. Yes its true that my experience thus far with affiliate marketing has been negative to an extent, but then I think we are all aware of just why and how affiliate marketing has earned this reputation. But that doesn't mean I believe every affiliate marketer is like that, hence me coming here and trying to strike up a dialog.

    My hope was that I would get answers from good, high quality, ethical affiliates and see what networks they want to work through. My thinking was to gather the advice and then to 'check out' the people giving the advice by reading other posts they have made on other topics.

    Sadly this hasn't worked so well as we seem to have somehow lost point along the way.

    This topic was never meant to be about the value of paid endorsements and is instead meant to be about what affiliate network you, as an affiliate, prefer to work through.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by loxly View Post
    In the end it is all about relationships.

    People *ask* me for affiliate links to products they want that I recommend. Affiliates and other managers do to.

    Trust if you ask me what office chair I have and you can get it somewhere that I have an affiliate link for you won't believe that I really like the chair because I might make a couple bucks off the sale of it?

    It's all about relationships.

    Thinking your post makes a lot of sense, but you are basically still saying the channel you want to sell your product through is a channel you don't trust and won't purchase through.

    You sound smart enough to know the difference between the "gurus" and people with real opinions that just happen to have an affiliate link to their network of choice or to the books they recommend through an Amazon affiliate link.

    I wish you luck as you go through the process. Are you going to be at Affiliate Summit in January? There you can meet people face to face, discuss your options and decide if they are trying to sell you to sell you or if they believe in what they are selling you.
    Yes, you can truly like something and recommend it and have an affiliate link. You can truly like something and recommend it and not push a link. Both may be right but which is more likely to be skewed? Plus I can go thru my own affiliates links.

    Use my example of office chairs. Best office chair sites with nothing but affiliate links vs. Consumer Reports and consumer reviews from people with no financial interest in their opinion who have actually bought the product. I'm going with the latter. That's why Consumer Reports has been around for decades and is a trusted source. That's why people love the reviews that sites like Amazon have.

    As far as Affiliate Summit. Most people are there trying to sell something, it's a marketing event.
    Last edited by Trust; December 27th, 2010 at 02:05 AM.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by loxly View Post
    Hopefully your mind will accept that not every monetized link is out their to scam you.
    I never said they were! You are the one making generalizations, not me.

    All I have ever said is that I wanted to eliminate the need to question the honesty of the endorsements I received. I never said they would all be dishonest, Just that while the endorsement is paid for I cannot be sure if its an honest endorsement or not.

    Re-read through what I have written and I think you will find I have at every step taken care to avoid words like 'all' and have in fact shown every respect to affiliates. In fact the whole purpose of this question is to find out what affiliates want!

    This advice I am asking for isn't simply a decision about what web host to use (a $100 choice +/-)

    Or what hot killer SEO or IM product to buy ( from $20- $2000 )

    This is a decision that shapes the very future of my business going forward for years to come. This is a 7 figure decision in otherwords.

    Surely you can appreciate my desire to have only the most honest and forthright of endorsements and my need to eliminate any doubts as to the honesty of those endorsements.

    Surely you can understand why I want to get this right?

    Quote Originally Posted by loxly View Post
    I think your honest questions were answered
    Really?

    I count 8 people making replies out of 250k on this forum hardly a representative sampling and really isn't it up to me to decide if my question has been answered?

    Out of the 8 answers only 5 answered the question itself.

    That's out of 23 posts. Meanwhile we have 12 posts arguing the merits of paid for endorsements (including mine, I am not innocent in this either).

    So 5 posts in answer to 12 arguing and I am sure more to come out of 23 posts total. This is what I mean when I say signal to noise ratio.

    So to reiterate for hopefully the last time on this topic. I do not say that all paid for endorsements cannot be trusted, nor do I feel they are all out to scam me.

    Please stop putting words in my mouth.

    This isn't a casual decision with minimal impact. My entire business is going to be built around this choice.

    As such I do not wish to have any doubts about the veracity endorsements I receive. I am simply requesting, honest, unmonetized advice. I really don't see where this should be a problem given that, as I have since found out, affiliate links are not allowed here anyway.

  25. #25
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    Trust, Affiliate Summit may be a marketing event but it is in person and if you are a good judge of character you can decide quickly whether someone or some company is one that you want to work with. You can have meaningful real time conversations with people about what you are looking for and what you need.

    While ABW is a great place to gather information and learn, there is still a great deal of value in talking to people in person. You can't look into a person's eyes while they are talking to you hear, there is a one dimensional quality that can't be replaced.

    This topic was never meant to be about the value of paid endorsements and is instead meant to be about what affiliate network you, as an affiliate, prefer to work through.
    A quick search here could turn up more recommendations than you may care to read, the question is asked a lot. Much depends on your personal preferences, but for smaller merchants without a lot of products SAS seems to be a popular choice.
    Affiliates will go where you put your program. If you have a good program it won't totally matter what network you are on.

    It was recommended you do a search here and you would see a variety of opinions. This is not a new question and there is not a clear cut answer, but there are a lot of opinions expressed by affiliates, merchants and managers here at ABW.

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